Pushing the limits of unclos

10 - 11 October, 2017

International Hydrographic Bureau - IHB



The extensive maritime spaces and their associated coastal zones are critically important to sustaining life on Earth. Coastal and ocean areas are the drivers for the global economy and play a crucial and increasingly important role in global food security. These areas are therefore of critical importance across scales, from the global to the regional, national and sub-national coastal community levels. The oceans are, however, also increasingly under threat, notably as a result of enhanced competition for coastal and marine resources, coupled with increasingly intense and diverse uses which often occur in coincident maritime spaces leading to tensions and incompatible overlaps.

Increasing use of the oceans and thus enhanced opportunities and threats related to the oceans demand action. The core theme of the 9th ABLOS conference is to address advances and challenges in governing our shared Blue World under the framework of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea from both legal and technical perspectives

Keynote Speakers

Kristina M. Gjerde

Kristina M. Gjerde

High Seas Policy Advisor - IUCN Global Marine Program

Pushing the Limits of UNCLOS

Conference Themes

Implications of new and developing technologies on the law of the sea

The rapid development of technologies for accessing and collecting information in and about the oceans gives rise to new opportunities for gathering valuable information, such as bathymetric data, as well as new options for exploring and exploiting valuable marine resources. At the same time these developments challenge or go beyond existing law of the sea frameworks. How can new technologies and UNCLOS be reconciled?

Progress towards safeguarding biodiversity in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ)

Negotiations are ongoing at the United Nations towards an agreement to govern the conservation and sustainable use of the high seas which encompass over half of the world’s oceans. Current governance of these areas beyond national jurisdiction has been likened to a legal equivalent of the Wild West characterised by fragmented and mainly sector-based approaches. The session aims to highlight the key issues that need to be addressed in order to balance the need to protect this vast oceanic wilderness and its marine biodiversity with increasing pressures and threats.

Deep seabed mining

The idea of extracting minerals from the seafloor and seabed is not new. However, recent years have seen a surge in interest in deep sea mining (DSM). While DSM has yet to occur in practice commercial interest in the potential offered by such opportunities has led the International Seabed Authority (ISA) to grant multiple exploration permits and develop environmental regulations governing DSM activities on areas of seabed beyond national jurisdiction.

Legal and technical aspects of defining insular features

A longstanding conundrum in UNCLOS has been how to distinguish between islands capable of generating the full suite of claims to maritime jurisdiction and mere “rocks” which are unable to generate continental shelf and EEZ rights. The ruling of the Arbitration Tribunal in the South China Sea case in 2016 represents the first detailed judicial treatment of the regime of islands and has profound potential implications for maritime claims from insular features, low-tide elevations and artificial islands.

Baselines and defining the limits of maritime jurisdiction

Baselines are fundamental to maritime claims as they provide the ‘starting line’ for the measurement of maritime zones seaward. Traditional conceptions of the stability of baselines are challenged by sea level rise, global climate change and what has been termed the dawn of the ‘Anthroposcene’, leading to potential developments in the applications of UNCLOS.

The application of UNCLOS in high latitudes

The Polar regions are often regarded as largely pristine environments that are under increasing threat. This session examines the application of UNCLOS in Polar regions and covers significant developments such as increasing activities in high latitudes, notably increasing shipping leading to developments regarding communications and charting and other safety of navigation issues such as the implementation of Polar Code.


Deadline for sending abstract is 15 July 2017.

Feedback on selected presentations 1st August 2017.

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